Background: Ethnic diversity is increasing through migration in many developed countries. Evidence indicates that type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) prevalence varies by ethnicity and socio-economic status (SES), and that in many settings, migrants experience a disproportionate burden of disease compared with locally-born groups. Given Australia's multicultural demography, we sought to identify groups at high risk of T2DM in Victoria, Australia.
Methods: Using population data from the Australian National Census and diabetes data from the National Diabetes Services Scheme, prevalence of T2DM among immigrant groups in Victoria in January 2010 was investigated, and prevalence odds versus Australian-born residents estimated. Distribution of T2DM by SES was also examined.
Results: Prevalence of diagnosed T2DM in Victoria was 4.1% (n = 98671) in men and 3.5% (n = 87608) in women. Of those with T2DM, over 1 in 5 born in Oceania and in Southern and Central Asia were aged under 50 years. For both men and women, odds of T2DM were higher for all migrant groups than the Australian-born reference population, including, after adjusting for age and SES, 6.3 and 7.2 times higher for men and women born in the Pacific Islands, respectively, and 5.2 and 5.0 times higher for men and women born in Southern and Central Asia, respectively. Effects of SES varied by region of birth.
Conclusions: Large socio-cultural differences exist in the distribution of T2DM. Across all socio-economic strata, all migrant groups have higher prevalence of T2DM than the Australian-born population. With increasing migration, this health gap potentially has implications for health service planning and delivery, policy and preventive efforts in Australia.